Tuesday, October 18, 2016

This is What Inclusion Looks Like

Tonight I sat on a hard gym bleacher watcing an AAU practice.  This gal has spent many countless hours in the gym doing the same thing for our oldest but tonight I was sitting there for our David.  Our special needs child with low muscle tone, who has scars from battling cancer, and whose IQ is just below the magic line to be labeled with an intellectual disability, was invited to be on a local AAU basketball team.  Those who know David well know that basketball is his life, and watching him out on that court with his peers from school playing on a real team just about made this Momma come undone.  
 Tonight, my friends, I witnessed the pure straight up magic of inclusion.  Because David has been exposed to the typical curriculum in regular classes, he has made lots of friends- true friends who love him for who he is.  They certainly know he has a disability but good friends certainly do not count chromosomes.  Good friends know David loves basketball and has a pretty decent shot so when they needed a player they reached out to David.  I cannot handle the awesomeness that happened in that gym tonight.
We are certainly realistic and know that David will not be the tallest kid on the team and will not be called on to do the jump ball, or be the clutch foul shooter in a close game, but that is not what this is all about.  David has been given the opportunity to be on a team, receive a uniform, and make memories with his peers from school.  That is worth more than any basketball stats that will be kept this season in the stat book.
 Tonight the boys that missed two foul shots had to run suicides, and this Momma was probably the happiest mother ever to witness her child running suicides.  I love that the coach holds him to the same expectation as the other players, and has set the bar high for our Dave.  He does not have the ability that others may have but what this guy lacks in ability he compensates for it with heart and work ethic.
 Just when my heart was already beating out of my chest, Kyle was called out on the court to help in some drills.  I looked up and saw his awesome coach working with him on foul shots as big brother cheered him on.  God has certainly blessed our Dave with an amazing village around him!

Tonight I witnessed a beautiful example of what inclusion looks like-it looks like a child with a significant disability being included with his peers, being held to the same standard but with his friends recognizing that David was made a little differently.  I am not sure how many games this team will win this year but after witnessing their first practice, it truly does not matter because this team is made up of winners-from their coach down to every player who welcomed my son and encouraged him during his first practice.  This Momma is so thankful and overwhelmed by the magic of inclusion.

I also got to cheer on my favorite girl tonight playing tennis and this sweet girl was a joy to watch!  May her heart stay pure and her determination never dim.  She too is a winner!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Hoco 2016 and Cure by Design

What a super fun weekend we just had!  Last week was Kyle's first homecoming week at MSHS.  MSHS faculty and students make it such a special week with dress up days, a variety show, a movie night, and then of course the football game and dance.  I love that my kids will go to a school with such school spirit.

Saturday night I watched in awe as my first born enjoyed his first homecoming dance.  He went in a group made up of some great kids and he asked a sweet girl to be his date.  The kids chose Mason's farm as the spot for pictures and between their beautiful smiles, gorgeous fall weather, and a picturesque farm the pictures turned out great.
I really encouraged Kyle to go to homecoming because I want him to have four great years of high school.  I want him to be involved and make memories with great friends.  He certainly chose a pretty girl (inside and out) to be his date and I so enjoyed taking their pictures.
My heart was so full watching these kids laugh and have fun together.
My Momma heart was struggling that I actually had a child old enough to attend a high school dance.  We worked with him all week on how to treat a girl- I instructed him to treat his date in a way that is pleasing to God and how he would want someone treating his sister one day:)  

This beauty, Caroline, was also in their group.  Kyle and Caroline have grown up together and he loves her so much.  He even called me from the dance worried because she was upset for a minute because some boy was dancing with a girl.  This girl is the center of their social group and she was THE freshman rep on the homecoming court.  She looked beautiful! 

handsome guys in the hay loft on the farm.
The farm was so beautiful and gave us lots of good photo opportunities.
AFter the farm the group headed downtown to eat dinner.  We had to do some last minute pictures on the Iron St. Mall.  This picture makes me smile.
I was also THAT Mom that followed them into the restaurant for one last picture.  A few Moms and I had dinner at a nearby restaurant while they ate dinner.
Meanwhile while I was playing homecoming Mom, Mike, Dave, Hope, GG, And Pops, were at the Hotel Roanoke for the Cure by Design fashion show to benefit the American Cancer Society.  David was one of the models and it was a fabulous night!
David getting ready to rock the runway.  Blessedly one of my friends from college was also attending the gala and offered us seats at her table which allowed David to have a big cheering section!! I hate I had to miss it but having multiple children means that often you have to divide and conquer and Saturday night was one of those nights for us.  Mike said David did great and was not shy at all! HA! I was so thankful that GG and Pops were willing to be there in my place and truly cheer him on.
It is amazing to think that in our family David has finished treatment for cancer and Pops is almost finished with his chemo.  I never imagined that cancer would touch us so directly.  I am so thankful for events like this where David gets to shine and to give support  to the American Cancer Society.

This past weekend all the Robinsons (minus me) were in their finest for either Homecoming or the Cure by Design Gala.  I am so thankful for a fun homecoming weekend for Kyle with a great group of friends, and I am thankful for Dave to use his sparkle and personality to help raise crucial dollars for the American Cancer Society.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Special Spectators Day at Virginia Tech!

The Robinson Family is so proud to be a volunteers for Special Spectators.  We were introduced to this organization when David was in treatment and now we are blessed to be on the hostess side of this amazing organization that gives critically ill children a VIP experience at College football games.  The more events we volunteer and host, the more I love what this organization does.  
 Here is our group with John Laaser and Mike Burnop up in the radio booth.  Beautiful view from on top of Lane Stadium and these guys are class acts.  Earlier in the day I had a problem getting parking passes to some of our families and John Laaser asked if he could help since he was walking by and heard me talking to the Will Call lady.  He was truly worried about the two families that needed handicapped accessibility.

 We then caught the end of the Hokie walk and waited patiently for Coach Fuente!
 Coach Fuente was super sweet and welcoming to all of our Special Spectator kids.  Coaches are pretty intense and focused on game days but Coach Fuente took time with each kid.  Here is Dave shaking his hand.  He was so mad because he wanted to give him a message to "throw a hail mary" but he forgot.

 Several of our kids were currently in treatment for cancer and it was a long and hot day for those kids.  They were so excited they did not want to miss anything!!  This was the picture that was shown on the Jumbotron at the end of halftime.
 Dave practicing his skills on the practice field.
 Our group got to walk in the tunnel and low and behold Terrell Edmunds was headed on the field to warmup a little.  He was so sweet to Dave and tried to talk to Dave.  Dave went to shake his hand and he dabbed him!  Mike and I could have died from embarrassment!!!
 Daddy lifting big Dave to touch the Hokie stone.  One of our kids was in treatment and germ exposure is a big deal for a kid in active treatment.  He finally talked his mom into letting him touch the stone.  It was such a sweet moment.
 Our hot mess of a family!!!!!  It was a beautiful but hot day in lane stadium!
 Hope and some of our Special Spectator kids running on the field.
 Dave wanted to chase Luis, who was the photographer for the day.  He was a great guy who connected well with our kids and I am sure he got some amazing pictures.
 Dave apologized to Terrell Edmunds for dabbing on him and he was sweet enough to pose for this picture.  Dave asked him to pass on a message to the Coach to please throw a hail mary!

 The special fans were treated to a great tailgate and the Hokie bird even visited!
 The game was Military Appreciation Day and there was a flyover during the National Anthem.  It was amazing!
The game was a lopsided win but the Special Spectators had a wonderful day at Lane Stadium.  For a few hours on a Saturday they could foget about hospitalizations, doctor appointments, chemo, port accesses, and more time in the hospital and just focus on being a kid cheering on the Hokies and being treated like a VIP!  Virgnia Tech rolled out the red carpet for these amazing kids and families and I am just so thankful that we as a family could be there to host them and to see this experience through their eyes.  If you ever feel led to donate to a wonderful cause, check out www.specialspectators.org and also check out the photos from other gameday experiences.  This organization is near and dear to our heart and we are honored and blessed to be volunteers.